Director: Leslye Headland
Starring: Jason Sudeikis, Alison Brie, Natasha Lyonne, Amanda Peet, Adam Scott, Marc Blucas, Jason Mantzoukas, Andrea Savage
When I walked into the theatre to see Sleeping With Other People, I wasn’t quite sure about what to expect. Truthfully, my main attraction to the film was due to cast member Jason Sudeikis, whom I’m a huge fan of. After reading the actual plot synopsis, I thought to myself, Oh god, we know how this is gonna go – another predictable rom-com. Fortunately, although the premise for Headland’s film is nothing new, the story is told delightfully, and the two lead characters have a likeable familiarity about them. Point blank: Sleeping With Other People is a pleasant surprise worth seeing.
Lainey (Alison Brie) is a self-proclaimed sex addict whose problem has led her to cheat on her boyfriend sixteen times, ultimately ending the relationship. The temptation behind her infidelity is Matthew Sovochek (Adam Scott), a boring bloke who has been blowing off Lainey’s infatuation with him since the two met at Columbia University. Soon after her relationship ends, Lainey runs into Jake (Jason Sudeikis), a friendly womanizer who lived on the same floor as Matthew in college. The strange part? Jake and Lainey also lost their virginities to one another. One thing leads to another, and this strange reunion eventually blossoms into a tight, platonic friendship (but make no mistake – with plenty of sexual tension).
I’m in love with how this film is written. I’ve never seen a film directed or written by Leslye Headland, but Sleeping With Other People has put me on the lookout for her other films. Her writing for the film is very smooth, and she crafts the characters extremely well. The relationship between Lainey and Jake feels like a very authentic friendship. Even the supporting characters are given moments to shine, without any unnecessary subplots forced in. It’s quite clear that Headland really pays attention to detail in both her writing and direction. She especially excels at characterizing her players through their actions. For example, whenever anyone in the film dares to call Lainey “Elaine,” she angrily tells them off. Matthew Sovochek is the only character who she actually allows to call her that name – Headland’s subtle way of demonstrating Sovochek’s effect on the girl. A final thought on the writing and direction: Sleeping With Other People has the most accurate sex scenes that I’ve seen in a while. After seeing Alison Brie and Adam Scott viciously rub their noses together during one such scene, I’ll never be able to look at Scott the same way again. Headland has put together quite a realistic film with a perfect balance of comedy, drama, and romance.
I spoke of how great the two leading characters are, and obviously a lot of credit for that must go to the actors. Sudeikis and Brie are both great casting decisions; the two have a natural chemistry with one another. It really makes for a relationship with a realistic feel, and even the most scornful cynic will melt at the duo’s compatibility. Sudeikis’ background in comedy serves him well in delivering jokes here, and Brie is perfect as the quirky girl. The supporting actors are also memorable, Jason Mantzoukas as Jake’s best friend in particular.
Although I think Adam Scott is a good fit for Matthew Sovochek, I didn’t like the costuming he was put in. Sovochek is supposed to be a drab, dorky fellow, and Adam Scott already has a natural dorkiness about him. However, the thick glasses and the laughable mustache feel like overkill for his character and make Sovochek look just unnatural.
Is Sleeping With Other People predictable? The overarching idea most certainly is – as soon as Lainey and Jake decide to maintain a platonic friendship it becomes obvious that they will end up falling for each other. But what makes this story unique is the unexpected way in which these events play out. Headland has successfully created a memorable and entertaining examination of interpersonal relationships – a must-see for fans of comedy and romance alike.